Every spring there’s the mad end-of-the-school-year rush. School plays, concerts, field trips, requests for money, gifts for teachers, parties. After a while it starts to feel like my son’s elementary school is just fucking with me, you know? I keep waiting for a perfectly timed “SIKE!”* but it never comes.
Anyway, part of that end-of-year clusterfuck is deciding what in the world to do with my kid during the summer.
There are science camps and skate camps, music camps and culinary camps, nature camps and sports camps. I really wanted to enroll Oliver in a day camp that was just around the corner from my workplace.
You wanna know how much that day camp is?
$435 per week.
PER WEEK. By my calculations, summer break this year is roughly 10 weeks. It would cost us over $4,000 to send him there all summer.
Of course, not all day camps cost that much. We ended up going with a much cheaper camp that is still serviceable and also full of screaming children, which means Oliver is going to have a fantastic time.
But it got me thinking about all the money I’ve spent on childcare for my kid since his birth. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with him for nearly the first year of his life (a feat of scraping together every single dime we had until we could scrape no more). But once he started daycare, hoo boy.
If I’m not mistaken, we paid about $1,000 per month until he was around two -- when the price dropped to $850 per month. Folks, that is a house payment in some parts of the United States.
We paid that much because that is just what good childcare costs in our area. And knowing that my son was being cared for in my absence was my No. 1 financial priority, even above our monthly rent at the time.
But damn if it isn’t really fucking expensive.
Fortunately, as kids get older the daycare costs go down. Especially if your child is in a free, public elementary school -- then you only need to sort out after-school care. Fewer hours = less money. If you work from home or are a freelancer, you might have some flexibility in daycare hours and costs.
For example, after I returned to a day job after a year of freelancing, we put Oliver in after-school daycare three days per week for $230 per month, which is a bargain. It gives Oliver’s dad, Seth, who does still work from home, time to finish important projects.
Even if you think $435 per week is totally reasonable for a special summer day camp, you can see how there’s a bit of financial shock involved in going from $230 per month to $1200 or more per month, even if it IS only for a few months.
I actually sat down and estimated how much we’ve spent on childcare the past eight years, and that figure is: $55,200. And that's not even counting babysitters.
So here’s what I want to know: how much do you pay for childcare? And give us some details, like how old your kid/kids is/are, what your work situation is like -- that sort of stuff. Spill it, parents!
* Or "psych!" But that's not as fun to type.
Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood.